It’s been five years since Superstorm Sandy devastated the Northeast. The monster storm — which killed more than 100 people, destroyed entire communities, and inflicted more than $70 billion in damages — should have completely changed the way we approach climate impacts, resilience, and global warming policy. But it didn’t.
It’s no surprise that a comprehensive, long-term beach protection strategy requires significant changes to our economic system — a system that has overdeveloped and polluted beaches to the extent that they have become unhealthy places to swim or even play in the sand.
To mark the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, Josh Fox is encouraging people to watch his short film on storm cleanup and relief efforts, Occupy Sandy.
When Superstorm Sandy slammed into the U.S. East Coast last October, it was the latest in a series of “teachable moments” about our growing vulnerability to climate change.
Three and a half months ago, the walls upstairs at the Church of the Prophecy in Far Rockaway, a low-income coastal neighborhood of New York City, were covered with maps of where help was most needed. The church was a hub for the Occupy Sandy relief effort after Hurricane Sandy. Now, nearly five months after the hurricane struck, the maps have been replaced by posters extolling the virtues of collective struggle and art made by neighborhood children enrolled in Occupy Sandy’s twice-weekly after-school program.
In 2007, a financial firestorm ravaged Wall Street and the rest of the country. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy obliterated a substantial chunk of the Atlantic seaboard. We think of the first as a man-made calamity, the second as the malignant innocence of nature. But neither the notion of a man-made nor natural disaster quite captures how the power of a few and the vulnerability of the many determine what is really going on at ground level. Causes and consequences, who gets blamed and who leaves the scene permanently scarred, who goes down and who emerges better positioned than before: these are matters often predetermined by the structures of power and wealth, racial and ethnic hierarchies, and despised and favored forms of work, as well as moral and social prejudices in place before disaster strikes.
“I don’t think there’s anything like seeing water lapping at your feet on West End Avenue that provides a wake-up call. I can’t imagine what else could be more dramatic and focusing than water overtaking one of America’s celebrated international cities.”
As our daily lives are becoming increasingly destabilized by financial recession, climate change and perhaps political marginalization, self-organizing communities are also becoming a steady presence, from co-ops and community gardens to large-scale political movements like Occupy and the Arab Spring.
Flood myths are common to human culture. Swollen rivers, tidal storms, and tsunamis make their appearance frequently in literature. But Hurricane Sandy, which has drawn newly etched high-water marks on the buildings of lower Manhattan (and Brooklyn), has shifted the discussion from storytelling to reality.
At a speaking event in New York City this week, award-winning journalist and author Naomi Klein discussed why the reconstruction from Superstorm Sandy is actually a great place to usher in progressive change.
There is something prophetic about Hurricane Sandy in its foretaste of what Obama is now calling a ‘warming world’. Watching New York being battered by the storm was eerily like a scene out of climate-apocalypse movie The Day After Tomorrow.
Climate destabilization eclipses all other security threats to human civilization except for a major nuclear war. But the current global economy gives no signals to investors and consumers about the profound implications of climate destabilization on water cycles, agriculture, and humanity’s ability to grow food for seven billion people.